Coronavirus, Bankitalia: “Inequality is increasing. Double losses for families who previously had lower incomes”


The crisis triggered by the coronavirus is bound to sharpen the social divide and economic of Italian families. There Bank of Italy, in his Annual report, in fact, estimates that in the first quarter of 2020 20% of nuclei with lower incomes suffered a reduction in their income Double compared to the loss suffered by the families belonging to the highest fifth “. There inequality in the distribution of income from work, measured byGini’s index, in the first quarter of 2020 it is already increased by about two percentage points, al 37%. The maximum value since 2009, first year of great economic crisis, whose negative records are gradually exceeded by the data of these weeks. For now the impact is “calmed” by the shock absorbers social, but “in the medium term there is a risk that the Covid-19 emergency will accentuate inequalities”.

Bankitalia explains that “in the first quarter of 2020 disposable income was affected by the drop in income from work caused by the health emergency. According to assessments consistent with the expected trend of economic activity in the various sectors and based on assumptions about the sensitivity of the different types of employment to the cycle, the decrease should have been significant for workers employees and even more marked for the autonomous, albeit with strong differences that reflect the different impact of the restrictive measures on activities “.

In general, “the self-employed are more concentrated in the sectors affected by the suspension measures adopted in March and which could be affected by a persistent weakness of demand in the coming months. The share of workers in restricted sectors, or engaged in tasks that can less easily be carried out remotely, would have been higher for households with the lowest levels of equivalent work income. ”

In the first quarter of 2020, explains the Report, the inequality of the distribution of equivalent net income from work, measured by theGini’s index for households with heads of families under the age of 64 and in whom no pension income is received (58 per cent of the total), it would increased by about two percentage points per 37 percent, touching the maximum value since 2009, year of beginning of the historical series used. The effects on the total of households would however be “mitigated by the inclusion of nuclei that receive substantially stable pension income”. Furthermore, to cushion the fall in income, the social safety nets and the bonus of 600 was introduced for the self-employed, while the relaunch decree introduced the Emergency income intended for families in difficult conditions not benefiting from other subsidies. In April, one million households received the Income or the Citizenship Pension, for an average amount of 540 euros.

“According to our assessments”, concludes the Report, “the shock absorbers should be able to significantly reduce the increase in inequality in the distribution of income from work due to the health emergency: the Gini index, calculated considering also the transfers , would drop to 35 percent on the assumption that all potential beneficiaries of the shock absorbers have actually benefited from it“. In the medium term, however, “there is a risk that the Covid-19 emergency will accentuate inequalities, due to the greater presence of low-income workers in sectors with the highest risk of infection and with less chance of work remotely, both because social safety nets offer a temporary support, in the face of potentially lasting repercussions on the income capacity of the workers most involved. ”

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